Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Yeti (Sasquatch, Big Foot): Fact or Fiction?

In 1970, two mountaineers in Nepal were climbing at 13000 feet (4.000m) above sea level when they stumbled across a set of mysterious footprints. Later Don Williams, one of the climbers, claimed to have seen an ape like creature responsible for the prints. The Abominable Snowman (Yeti or Sasquatch) has been reported for hundreds of years yet very few people have ever seen it. Whilst myths and folklore of indigenous populations accept the existence of hairy human like creatures our scientific community remains, skeptical.

Bigfoot comes in a several varieties, the Yeti from Asia, Sasquatch from North America, and Almas of Russia, Mongolia and China. Some believe Bigfoot to be the last surviving relic of Neanderthal man which lives in the most remote parts of the world. Footprints as a means of evidence may seem solid enough and there have been plenty reported over the years. However, snow prints in the sun are easily enlarged and simple for pranksters and hoaxers to manipulate. So although over a thousand were found at Bossberg, Washington State in 1969, not much credence can be given to them.

(Video Courtesy: 8888Maverick8888 by Youtube Channel)

In Bluff Creek, Carolina in 1967, Roger Patterson was thrown from his horse whilst filming the countryside. By chance he captured a few frames of what appeared to be a large ape like creature. Many people believe this is convincing evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. Unfortunately, scientific evidence disagrees. The size of the animal compared to its footprint is out of proportion. The foot size and stride length are also incompatible. Walking is a cyclic event and depending on the size and shape of our human form determines how we move. In the case of Bigfoot from the photographic evidence is inconclusive.

More compelling evidence comes from a 1917 report, of a geology expedition travelling the Venezuela/Colombian border. They came across two aggressive ape-like creatures. Terrified at their antics they shot one before the other escaped. They photographed and measured the dead creature. It was approximately 5' (1.5m), taller than any known South American primate. The head and teeth were humanoid. The photograph taken by the geologists provides vital proof unknown anthropoids may still be alive, and living in remote parts of the world.


(Video Courtesy: DocSpot by Youtube Channel)

Grant J (1995) The illustrated book of great mysteries: the stories and myths of the unexplained. Devises: Selectabook Limited 32-36
Smith J (2018) The Yeti: A Story of Scientific Misunderstanding Cool Green Science

Reviewed 20/02/2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A brief History of Cowboy boots

The origins of the Cowboy Boot are well researched and started life as riding boots for the marauding Mongol tribesmen. Horsemen wore red wooden heels and conquered all before them. The fashion caught on and was popular for centuries among nobility and horse riders. Louis XIV wore only red heels as a tribute to Genghis Khan and banned all other men in his court from sporting the red heel.

English Cavaliers took the style to extraordinary lengths wearing thigh high riding boots with Cuban heels. Once defeated by Oliver Cromwell, the Cavalier Stuarts immigrated in their droves to the New World. They took with them their boots and many settled in the southern states forming the plantation class. After the Civil War (1861-65) many southerners migrated west to Texas taking with them their noble footwear. Standard cavalry issue during the American Civil War was the Wellington boot.

In 1815, Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). The popular victor became a national icon and both men and women emulated his sartorial style by adopting his footwear. To make the boots easier to mass produce the modern Wellington had a low cut heel which was calf high and not thigh high.

Unfortunately, during the American Civil War (1861-1865) unscrupulous contractors supplied below par footwear to the government and many of the cavalry boots were mass produced using reinforced cardboard. Climatic conditions took its tool and horse soldiers suffered deep cuts to their feet. A Chiropodist General to the US cavalry was appointed at this time. Our lexicon was enriched with the word shoddy meaning manufacturers willing to compromise for profit. Many experts believe the final victory by the Union Army was in no small measure due to the superior footwear of their forces. There were few boot factories in the south and many of the Confederate Army fought barefoot.

Right and left boots were introduced and they were most unpopular. As a result, shoe manufacturers decided not to introduce right and left shoes to the masses for another half century. At the end of the war the federal government had half a million pairs of boots surplus to requirements.

Systematically during the following years troops stationed on the frontier were supplied with the shoddy boots. Shoe historians believe the foundation of the cowboy boot trade in the frontier was based on the simple necessity for civilian bookmakers to replace defective military footwear. Skilled workers from Germany and other European Countries were welcomed and crafted hard wearing boots called "kips" from the shoddy military issue. These were low heeled, high topped boots made in hard, black, leather. Boot makers based their designs on Northern European riding boots. The most popular was the Coffeyville Boot (1870) from Coffeyville, Kansas. It combined the various US Cavalry styles and the original British leather, Wellington boot. Billy the Kid (1859-1881) was reputed to wear a style of boots based on the Austrian Boot.

During the American Indian Wars in the west (circa 1865) the US Government issued new boots to the soldiers that used brass tacks to hold the leather soles to the uppers. As the soles wore down the tracks protruded through the bottom into the soldier’s feet. The Government put together a committee to study the problem and suggested a solution. Their solution was to issue each soldier with a metal file to file down the points of the tacks as they pushed through the boot sole. This is thought to be the origin of the phrase “getting down to brass tacks.”

High heeled boots (4"), called saddle dandies, were popular by 1860s. The back of the heel sloped gently until the sole was no bigger than a quarter.

Drover, Stovepipe and cattleman models were popular and the leg of the boots rose at least 14 inches with many boots going thigh high.

By the 1880's the cowboy boot was beginning to emerge as a distinctive style. Starting life as a dress Wellington or full Wellington, the fashion merged with the hard wearing lace up boot (or packer), worn by drovers. Other influences included the Mexican riding boot called vaquero. Early cowboy boots had no ornamentation and for control in the saddle, the shoe portion was made so tight that walking was difficult and painful. Originally both boots were made on the same last which necessitated the wearer having to break them in. Later the three-piece military boot was incorporated and worn by Hollywood's Cowboys.

In 1903 the first embroidered toe wrinkles started to appear. Cut out leather designs often in a star pattern were sometimes overlaid around the collars of the boot tops. Tejas (or Napoleon style boots) with their peacock flair and ostentatious inlays were worn by Hollywood megastars like Tex Ritter (1905 -1974) and Tom Mix (1880 – 1940) during the 20's and 30's. At first films were made in the Eastern States and the costumes were based on exaggerated clothing illustrated in cheap novels and comics. By the time the industry moved to California in 1914 and employed real cowboys, their actual clothes were considered too dull compared to the illusion.

Instead actors wore highly decorated boots outside their trousers.

Charlie Dunn one of Texas's most famous makers had produced in 1914 a pair of boots trimmed with gold and inlaid with diamonds and rubies for a gambler. In 1923 boots were available in the US, made from kangaroo skins. It is therefore somewhat surprising to think; today’s cowboy boots are really fantasy footwear fabricated by Hollywood and have little to do with the Wild West.

The Italian shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo (1898- 1960) made boots for one of Cecil B de Mille's films. The director was so impressed he said " The West would have been conquered earlier, if they had boots like these." The style caught on and thanks to Hollywood became popular across the world. Designs became more colourful and ornate and fashion designed flocked to add to the range of boots available to the fashion following throngs.

By the 1930s cowboy boots were available with leather inlays depicting steer heads, stars, half-moons, dice diamonds, initials, ranch brands, hearts and butterflies. Boot makers vied to outdo each other with coloured leathers, stitching and exotic materials, decorating their boots with decks of cards, oil derricks, spider's webs, prickly pear cacti, and bucking broncos. The exotic cowboy boot remained popular and peaked in the mid-fifties.

The Lucchese Company of Texas in 1940's produced 48 pairs of boots to symbolise each of the states, featuring inlays of the state house and state flower, bird and flag.

In 1954, the design of cowboy boots changed to accommodate the growing sport of Roping. At rodeos competitors were required to bale off their mounts, then chase and tackle a strong calf. A lower heel and rounded toe was preferred. This style soon caught on with the audience and became the vogue.

The 60s brought an oil boom to the oil states which led to a subsequent economic upswing. Conservative Texans were more likely to drive a Cadillac than ride mustangs and so therefore influenced the fashion for lower heeled boots.

By the 70's urban cowboys took to the dance floor and the common work boot all but vanished. The new boots were less hardwiring and more high fashion. Today's styles cater for both with the traditional high heel and pointed toes for the posers and a lower heel, rounder toed boot with comfortable soles and laces for the real cowboy.

There is a common bond between many of the modern US Presidents and cowboy boots. Harry Trueman (1948) ordered his from the famous bootmakers, Tony Lama, establishing the "El Presidente" style which in turn graced the feet of many other US Presidents.

Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama .

The Johnston & Murphy Company made President Obama a pair of boots similar to the style made for Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

City Slicker, Donald Trump is the exception, (what else ?) and is rarely seen in anything other than in flashy and gleaming-with-shine black leather Oxfords.

The appeal of the fashion cowboy boot in not hard to fathom and it is an excuse for men to share the thrill of standing on elevated footwear. The change in body mass this has makes for a more attractively shaped derriere and hence the natural development of the jeans. Standing taller helps to give the impression of power and dominance and presence and presentation were all in the Hollywood that made the style fashionable. The footwear can be secreted into everyday wear and therefore undetected to the undiscerning eye. On average a handmade fashion boot will take 45 hours of loving labour and be every bit as a creation as a designer cocktail dress.

(Video Courtesy: Steven Foreman by Youtube Channel)

Further Reading

More information about the cowboy boot at Jennifer June's Tribute to Cowboy Boots

Reviewed 19/02/2019

Donald J Trump: Little Big Man

It appears Donald Trump was 6’2” for years before he entered the 2016 Republican Primary, then he shot up to 6’3”. This may have had more to do with his rivals at the time, Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum who are both 6’3”. History confirms in the race for presidential candidate the taller candidate is most likely the victor. The 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump resents people who are taller than him and does not like to look small in front of his opponents. He is man obsessed with being the biggest, the best, the most impressive, and does not feel constrained by objective facts to prove it.

Photograpic comparisons with others of known height appear to tell a conflicting story. During his inauguration, standing next to former president, Barack Obama (6’1” – 1.8m), Donald Trump looked smaller in stature. When he and former FBI Director, James Comey (2.03 m), were photographed the latter towered over the former, and more than the official 13 cm difference in height.

So too did his son-in-law, Jarod Kushner (1.9m) and when he stood beside Justin Trudeau (1.88 m), the two appear to be the same height. Yet, Trudeau, appears at least an inch taller than Trump in a photo taken at the G7 summit. The two men stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the image along with fellow world leaders.

Many believe the current POTUS wears elevator shoes to artificially enhance his height.

Human height has long been associated with interpersonal dominance and social status. Both sociological studies and historical evidence confirm taller people receive a more positive perception of themselves as well as greater social success. The idea height alone defines a man’s value is archaic and part of a very backward notion of masculinity. None the less, tall men seem to command more respect and reverence.

(Video Courtesy: Rick Bartley by Youtube Channel)

Thanks to anthropometric research data, it is possible to calculate a person’s height from their hand length, as the two measurements are highly correlated. Taller people tend to have bigger hands, although there is some variance in human proportions

length = 27 + (0.095 × height)

Madam Tussaud in Las Vegas keeps a brass hand print of Donald Trump’s hand which measures 7.4” long (18.8 cm).

The 1988 US Army Anthropometry Survey (ANSUR) data , provides hand height comparisons, and when the Tussaud hand is measured in the same way, Trump’s corrected hand length is 198 mm (7.8 inches), which would make him approximately between 5’ 9” and 6’ tall . Trump’s hand length is almost exactly 1 standard deviation below what we would expect of someone as tall as he claims. A person 1.8m tall would have a hand size of about 206 mm. according to these statistics.

Unfortunately, for the benefit of analysis, there is not a Trump footprint. As with the hand, a linear correlation between foot size and height exists and taller people generally have bigger feet. Officially Donald Trump is a size 12 (US), with is consistent with a man of 6’3” stature. However, shoe size is not a perfect measure of foot size, and people can wear longer shoes to give the impression of larger feet. Comparisons between Justin Trudeau (Size 11 US) and President Trump (size 12 US) suggest Donald J Trump has smaller feet than reported.

Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump appears to wear expensive suits that just did not seem fit him. We are told he prefers to buy off the peg clothing but refuses to have them tailored. Further it seems he persists with being taller than he actually is and wear suits cut for a 6’3″ man. Common sense might tell you even wearing shoe lifts this suiting will not match the physique of a significantly smaller frame.

The President of the United States in ill-fitting suits makes him appear at time comical with or without elevated shoes. No doubt this accounts for his change of wardrobe to long coats to help streamline an expanding waistline. Officially, according to his latest medical records, Trump is 6-foot-3, weighs 243 pounds, and has a body mass index of 30.37 (Class 1 obese).

Sunday, February 17, 2019

O J Simpson trial and the birth of Forensic Podiatry

Shoes can yield a wealth of information with a plethora of chemical substances, dust and particles attached to the tread. Crime scene footprints narrow down the suspect list and give investigators clues to the physical characteristics (e.g.: shoe size, approximate weight height and gender) of those wearing the shoes. Forensic podiatry is based on the footmarks or footwear found at the scene of a crime. Wear patterns of a shoe are individual and relate back to a particular foot type and structure.

The foot is a kinetic machine, which goes through cyclic activities leaving clear, wear marks, which can be interpreted by the expert. By comparing the information with the foot structure of suspects, aids police in a positive identification. The combined knowledge of biomechanics and gait analysis with a sound grounding in shoe technology makes a valuable contribution to detection of crime.

Advanced computer technology developed to interpret information has further enhanced the database and now there are now several expert systems available.

By far the most celebrated civil prosecution involved the Hollywood personality O J Simpson. In January 1994 Nicole Simpson Brown, ex-wife of the celebrity was dining at the glitzy Brentwood eatery near Santa Monica Boulevard. When she left the restaurant that night she was never seen alive again. Both she and waiter Ron Goldman were discovered in a pool of blood, stabbed in an apparent frenzy. Compelling circumstantial evidence implicated her ex-husband and eventually he is arrested and charged. Brilliant defence faltered prosecution and Simpson was acquitted on all charges.

A pivotal component of the successful defence was Simpson’s denial he owned a pair of Bruno Magli shoes responsible for a size 12 shoe print found at the murder scene. Simpson dismissed the shoe as "uglyass shoes" and assured the court he would not wear this style in a million years. Later the Goldman and Brown families sued for wrongful death, a way of claiming damages following a criminal act. At US civil trials the standard of proof is jurors have to be convinced on the "balance of probabilities", not the criminal standard of "beyond reasonable doubt". Only 9 of the 12 jurors have to agree with the plaintiff families.

The plaintiffs produced thirty separate photographs of O.J. wearing Bruno Magli. Size 12 Simpson’s shoe size, matched perfectly with the shoe prints found at the scene of the crime. The verdict was unanimous and OJ Simpson was ordered to pay over $10 million for the wrongful death.


A touch of the macabre, after the trial, sales of Bruno Magli shoes rose expotentially. Further Reading

American Society of Forensic Podiatry
DiMaggio J A (2005) The Role of Feet and Footwear in Medicolegal Investigations Forensic Medicine of the Lower Extremity Ch13. pp 375-400
DiMaggio, J A., Vernon W (2011) Forensic Podiatry: Principles and Methods Humana Press
Hilderbrand D S (2013) Footwear, The Missed Evidence Footwear, The Missed Evidence, 3rd Edition University of Huddersfield Forensic Podiatry MSc

More Information

(Video Courtesy: learnhistory2 Youtube Channel)

(Video Courtesy: Podiatry Careers Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 17/02/2019

Saturday, February 16, 2019

How can I look taller?

In the glittering society where image is all, the height challenged revel in the fashion for high heels. To those in the know, fashion determines the 'tall look,' and that necessitates wearing well fitting clothes in one colour from head-to-toe. Fashionista luminaries like, Melania Trump are ably assisted by a plethora of shoe designers including Christian (Red Soles) Louboutin with 5-inch stilettos . Why physical height commands respect is not exactly clear but ever since shoes were worn to decorate important people, height has mattered. Research has shown height is something many people base their judgments and opinions upon. And it is a strange fact taller people get better jobs, earn a higher income, and have an easier time with relationships.

In Greek times, actors wore platform sandals and stood tall during their performances. Their stilted gait as they swaggered across the stage caused females in the audience to faint. Later in Roman times, an ageing Julius Caesar gave the outward appearance of youth and physical presence by dying his hair with henna, wear heel lifts in his boots,

In the 18th century in the US colonies it was reason enough for the groom to be granted a decree nisi if it was discovered on his wedding night, his bride had deceived him by wearing elevated shoes under her long dress.

Nineteenth century tto was full of it and the Victorians made much of the need to be as tall as they could be. Important people needed to tower over others, as the phrase “well heeled”, (referring to affluent people) clearly illustrates.

As the twentieth century progressed and the significant importance of Hollywood glamour grew on society it was not always appreciated the manufactured screen heroes were not always as they appeared in real life. Alan Ladd stood 1.68 m (5 feet, 6 inches), and always insisted he was given preferential perspective (in height) on close up scenes when shot with fellow actors. It is recorded his leading ladies were required to walk in a specially dug out ditch so as to appear shorter than Ladd on camera. These conventions are still used. Tom Cruise is a wee lad but always appears taller on screen thanks to favourable camera work.

Lucrative personal appearances required an elevated personage and so heel lifts and elevator shoes were essential. Few stars were willing to admit publicly to wear elevator shoes and or lifts became so they became so well made it was difficult even for the paparazzi to tell who was wearing them. Spotting height challenged stars is a specialised pastime and according to experts relates to the complex observation of comparing their upper body height and the distance from the base of their feet to the top of the knee when the star sits down. This is made easier when comparison can be made to known individuals who do not sport shoe lifts or elevator shoes. Parallax error does contribute as often the camera is directed at the upper torso. The introduction of flat screen monitors has made some advancement here but the traditional curved screen made it very difficult to be 100% sure.

Celebrities known to wear shoe lifts include John Wayne, Bobby Darin, Russel Crow, Sylvester Stallone, Dolly Parton, Robert De Niro, William Shatner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, and Burt Reynolds, and many more.

Sir Cliff Richard (the Peter Pan of UK Pop) has always admitted to don heels to boost his 5ft 10in (1'78m ) frame on stage as has Wee Reggie (Sir Elton John). His 1.72 m (5 foot 6 inches) was insufficient to stretch across his Yamaha piano on stage and needed the extra leverage his elevated shoes gave him for his extravagant performances. In the 70s platform shoes were a bonus to the height challenged.

Sir Mick Jagger (at 1.7m or 5 feet 8 inches) avoids multicoloured outfits and for years has worn elevated sneakers. His hi- Nikes helped him match the 6ft 2in (1'88m) of his paramour.

Short Ass, Sir Rod Stewart (1'78m) has his 6ft 2in (1'88 m) partner, Penny Lancaster well trained for apparently the lady quietly steps off the kerb for publicity and paparazzi photos shots.

When significant height is required it is best to have the shoe adjusted (increase the thickness of the midsole), inserts such as heel lifts are rather limited and if they are too thick, lifting the heel out of the shoe. There is about 3/16 inch (4.8 mm) dead space in any shoe and in socks ticker than 6 mm will cram the foot in an ordinary shoe. Deeper shoes are available but their bulk is eye catching and a must to avoid if curios glances are to be averted.

Elevator shoes for men are more discreet than visible heels and attract less comment. Well placed lifts can add a promising height boost of anywhere between two and five inches. Heel lifts require the ankle and heel counter to be tailored at an angle to assist with walking. Certain shoes such as Doc Marten’s and Cowboy Boots cleverly conceal increased midsoles when combined with an elevated shoe heel making it impossible to detect.

Shoe makers routinely cater for their height challenged clients and occasionally spill the beans otherwise they remain silent if they wish to ensure continued custom. Today companies like The Shoe Lift Company specialise in removable shoe lifts for people who want to gain up to 2.5 additional inches in height. Made from high grade ethyl vinyl acetate foams, the lifts are light weight and with a good elastic memory to ensure the wedges last. One size fits all the shoes so they can be worn in tennis shoes to cowboy boots. According to the manufacturers their ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) shoe lifts are thermoplastic and will plastically deform under heat and pressure to conform to heel anatomy ensuring an extremely comfortable fit. Shoe lifts are available for both genders. Similar shoe lift products are available from Levitator Lifts .

(Video Courtesy: Doug Franco by Youtube Channel)

Height challenged politicians like to appear taller too. Former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy (1'65m or 5ft 5in) preferred to be photographed with shorter people to make him look taller. When he visited a motor technology plant in Normandy , only the shortest workers were selected to share a stage with Mr Sarkozy. He, like others stand on a step behind the lectern and away from the cameras.

The late , Lady Diana (1'78 m) was the same height as her husband, Charles, The Prince of Wales but Royal protocol demanded the ladycould appear taller than her Prince and wore low heel pumps when in public. This started the fashion trend for elegant flats but when Lady Di was free from all that palaver. she preferred to wear her Jimmy Choo shoes. Sad to report, the very day she died her celebrity shoe designer had new heeled pumps ready for her collect.

(Video Courtesy: GUIDOMAGGI Luxury Italian Elevator Shoes by Youtube Channel)

Interesting site

Di Fabrizio Shoes The Shomaker to the stars

Reviewed 16/02/2019